Glimpses of brilliance and shaky defending saw Arsenal let a 2-1 comeback slip through their fingers in the final minutes of Saturday’s early kickoff against Manchester City at the Emirates. City took the lead at the half hour mark through a loose ball from a Flamini tackle that saw Jesus Navas recover and make an 85m run and cross it to an unmarked Sergio Aguero – mostly Flamini’s fault – who dinked it past a helpless Szczesny.
Arsenal made it 2-1 through brilliant goals by Jack Wilshere and Alexis Sanchez, but hopes of the match’s 3 points were blown in the wind after Demichelis found himself unmarked as well inside Arsenal’s box to fire in a header from a corner kick with less than 10 minutes left on the clock. It was 2-2 at full time, and Arsenal yet again had failed to beat Manchester City for the 3rd time consecutively at the Emirates.
The summer arrival of Alexis Sanchez had Gooners around the world excited, with the prospect of watching the Chilean link up with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud, and Theo Walcott (once he gains full fitness). Other additions included Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina, Calum Chambers, and deadline day transfer Danny Welbeck.
It looked as if Wenger had finally managed to receive the financial support for him to be proactive in the transfer market. He had successfully fulfilled all his required targets except a replacement for Thomas Vermaelen, who formed a part of the rejuvenated Barcelona squad, 3 weeks to deadline day. Although to be fair, Arsenal had two late offers rejected for Olympiakos’ Manolas and Dortmund’s Sokratis. The much-debated need for a defensive midfield powerhouse was ignored by Arsenal altogether. And it showed.
The Gunners kicked things off with a comeback win in opening day with a later winner by Aaron Ramsey to put paper on cracks of an unconvincing performance. A similar scenario followed at Goodison Park when Arsenal bounced back after conceding 2 goals to narrowly getting the equalizer with little time left on the clock.
Both legs of the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas were scary and could have easily gone the other way. Alexis Sanchez scored the tie’s only goal at the Emirates and secured a 17th consecutive year of Champions League football, prompting many to say that he had paid off his transfer fee amount with his first goal as a Gunner.
The third round of the Premier League saw Arsenal escape an awkward situation, yet again, after leaving Leicester with a draw that could have easily been a defeat. Last night’s showing against the titleholders at the Emirates was probably the best performance since the beginning of the season, yet they fell short of the three points. Arsenal are still undefeated, yet they look far from convincing.
There are a few observable reasons to why the club isn’t performing to its full potential.
For starters, the interesting choice of formation and player positions has the fans all riled up. Arsenal have played with a 4-3-3 and a 4-1-4-1, leaving their usual 4-2-3-1 from last season which is yet to be tested with this squad. Both new formations ended up with players playing out of their normal positions; such as Ozil on the flank or Alexis as a striker – which according to Wenger, is the best position for the Chilean. Sanchez scored on all occasions when played on the flank, except against Crystal Palace on opening day. Ozil is yet to be played in his preferred number 10 role of a free flowing midfielder, and all his performances post World Cup have been less than expected of the World Cup medal winner.
What can be more frustrating is the fact that Arsene Wenger snubbed the first option to buy Cesc Fabregas – who has since been lighting up the Premier League with Chelsea – due to the fact that he already had a player similar to the Spaniard in Ozil. The German needs to find his form if Arsenal are hoping to compete at any level this season.
Another player who desperately needs to find his form is Aaron Ramsey. Even with the Welshman finding the net twice already in 4 games; his performance from last season is yet to resurface. Arsenal’s latest addition Danny Welbeck looked very promising in his debut against Manchester City. The inside of Joe Hart’s right post took away what could have been an amazing debut goal in the 11th minute, but even without a goal the former United man furnished an energetic and lively performance for the 86 minutes that he was on the pitch.
The season is still young and the Gunners are still undefeated, which is good news. However, what we as fans would expect is a consistent show of the relentless hunger and unwillingness to back down as they did so for certain long period of bursts throughout the game last night.